DRAGON: A hearty hello to all, and welcome to "Say It Once - Say It Loud". My name is Dick "Dragon" Donovan, and I'm your host for the night. Today we'll look into the lives of three people with three equally disturbing true stories about living their lives in fear of persecution by their friends, loved ones and people around them. We'll be touching a topic that has been, until very recently, considered a taboo. I'm talking about closet straightness and how our self-proclaimed flexible society still has a long way to go on its journey towards transparency, equality and embracement of minorities. So, I bid you all welcome to: "SAY IT ONCE - SAY IT LOUD!" AUDIENCE: I'M STRAIGHT AND I'M PROUD!
DRAGON: Jerome Kenning from Guildford, welcome to the show.
JEROME: Thanks, Dragon. It's an honour to be here.
DRAGON: Your story is particularly chilling, since it involves your family, right?
JEROME: That's right, D. All my family members are gay. My dad, my other dad, my brother and my sister are as queer as you can get. I was brought up in a gay household, and up until I was 16, I'd lived under the impression that I'm gay too. How could I not be with that upbringing?
DRAGON: So what was the big turning point for you?
JEROME: Well, I'd always thought I was different. When my family would listen to WHAM! and Barbra Streisand, I'd listen to Led Zeppelin and Iggy Pop. When the others would clothe themselves in colour and splendour, I'd settle for black t-shirts and jeans. They'd always make jibes about my lifestyle, teasing me about my obvious straightness, and then we'd all have a hearty giggle about it. But even though I joined in the laughing, something stirred inside of me. So when I got an inflatable Village People doll-set for my sixteenth birthday, it all boiled over. I confronted my family at the dinner table and told them outright: "I'm straight."
DRAGON: That was awfully brave of you. There's nothing harder than to admit a perceived flaw in front of your family.
JEROME: Thanks, it was pretty tough. Well my dad no. 1 chocked on his asparagus and my dad no. 2 said, through his tears, that I wouldn't be getting tickets to the rainbow parade next year. I'm 23 now, and I get the feeling that only recently has my family begun to accept my straightness. But the torture I went through in childhood haunts me daily.
DRAGON: Your story is inspirational, and I thank you solemnly for sharing it with us. We'll leave Jerome alone for a moment, and talk to Cindy Hut from London. Cindy, what's your story?
CINDY: Unlike Jerome, I had an easy childhood. My parents were true 60's people, and they openly accepted any deviation from norm, be it in your character, your lifestyle or, perhaps, your sexual preference. However, my troubles began when I enlisted in the army.
DRAGON: Now it has generally been the case that women who enlist are always lesbians, isn't that so?
CINDY: Case, no, assumption, yes. It was all good until the end of basic training, when the guys and I went out for a drink. I got pretty plastered and at some point blurted out that I'm straight. Oh...it was horrible. All the guys at the table jumped up with horrible expressions on their faces. You see, when you have a woman, a lesbian, in your squad, there's no hassle. You can be sure that she won't make any advances, and if the guys get any ideas, they're sure to be rejected. When you're out there, fighting, you have to be sure that any there's no sexual tension, because that can get you killed.
DRAGON: That's true, go on.
CINDY (sobbing): So...I was called to the battalion HQ. I met with the lieutenant colonel, and he blatantly gave me two options: 1) "Quit being foolish, girl. You're a dyke as surely as my grandmother is one" and 2) "If you want to pursue this foolishness, you're out of my battalion, and, if I have my say, out of this whole goddamn army."
DRAGON: And now, dear audience, you will hear of true heroism. Tell me Cindy, what did you do?
CINDY: I'm proud of it to this very day. I told the officer that "I'd rather die than renounce my ways" and gave him a kiss on the lips. Then I ran out of the office and out of the army.
AUDIENCE (furiously clapping): Oooh, aaah.
DRAGON: Cindy, you're an inspiration to us all.
CINDY (still sobbing): Thank you, D.
DRAGON: And our final guest tonight is Herbert Lemmon from Cambridge. His story is one that touches us all: prejudice at the workplace. Herbert, the floor is yours.
HERBERT: Thank you, Dragon. It's a pleasure to be here. Cindy, Jerome, listening to your stories has brought warm feelings to my heart. I was doubtful at first if I'd dare to speak my piece, but you have shown me an example I'll never forget. Well, my story is pretty simple and everyday, but to me, personally, it's so much more. I'm a cosmetologist. I'm the only straight male cosmetologist out there. I've studied long days, weeks and years to get my degree, and I worked like a mule to get to where I am now. When I got my new job, I was afraid to tell anyone of my straightness. I know a little bit about work ethics, and I know how much it counts to be accepted at your job, not only for who you are but also how you live.
DRAGON: Now, as I understood, you came out of the closet just as your probation ended?
HERBERT: That's right, Dragon. I waited the four months and played along with the gay parade. I could easily imitate gayness, but always had good excuses not to go into relationships. As soon as my probation ended, we had a yearly review meeting with the whole department present. In the middle of the meeting I asked for the floor and told everybody about my straightness. It was a daring thing to do, but I had no choice.
DRAGON: That's awfully brave of you. What happened next?
HERBERT: Well, there was a long, long silence. Then everybody started laughing as if I'd made a funny joke or something. I told them that no, seriously, I'm straight. That's when our boss called the end of the meeting and ushered everyone out but me.
DRAGON: Ouch, what happened? Was your boss angry?
HERBERT: Well, here's the funny thing. My boss told me, of course, that I shouldn't have said anything, because there's going to be abuse and teasing and so forth. I said that I don't care; I can't live a lie, especially not in a job that I really love to do and that I do well. So my boss says he understands completely. And then he gave me a wink. I'm not sure what he meant, but I guess he was saying that he's straight too. Anyway, having my boss in on the secret made me feel more secure about myself.
DRAGON: What about the attitudes of your colleagues?
HERBERT: Well, it's pretty nasty. They tease me all the time, plant porno magazines in my desk drawers, walk around like John Wayne and a lot of other things too. But when my boss is around, they quit teasing me. I don't care, I'm doing a job that I love and I'm not going to let a bunch of faggots keep me from doing it well.
AUDIENCE (clapping): You go, homeboy!
DRAGON: I must say that you three have been enormously brave to come out as you have. Our gay community must have a better level of understanding. I, and I'm sure you all share my view, hope that one day we can look back on this rift between gay and straight people and laugh about it all.
AUDIENCE (cheering): Woo, woo, woo.
DRAGON: Well, that's all the time we have for tonight. Next week we explore the white minority in our black, gay community, when we air our Christmas special: "Say It Once - Say It Loud, I'm White And I'm Proud!" Folks, remember: it's not what you do; it's how you do it that counts. Have a good night, and once more: "SAY IT ONCE - SAY IT LOUD!"
AUDIENCE, JEROME, CINDY, HERBERT: I'M STRAIGHT AND I'M PROUD! [tags]closet, straight, talk, show[/tags]